Thursday, October 27, 2011

Aras 2011

Voting day has finally arrived and since 2pm yesterday the broadcast media has had to avoid discussing the candidates. I'm not sure if a broadcast ban is really relevant these days since the internet and print media do not have the same restrictions and these days many people get a substantial amount of their news online and so can continue to read about election. The broadcasting ban may give us some peace quiet in the day before voting but it doesnt really achieve much else.

Either way ban or no ban, my choice is already made, I'll be voting for Michael D Higgins because I feel he better fits the role of President. In the end it was as simple as that. The President is a ceremonial position, they need to represent the state with dignity and poise, they need to be above the politicians who go to them looking for seals of office. Michael D for all his quirks appears to me to be the right person for the job. While some of the candidates had strong points I think they would be better suited to life in the Dail than in the Aras. Others should have been content to make a difference outside the Aras and will leave this election with their reputations tarnished without ever having a realistic chance or getting elected or even getting their expenses back.

Regardless of who you vote for you should go out to vote, it's a right, a privilege and a duty. It is something that people around the world fight and die for even today, dont waste it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy Dublin

Here is a photo I took outside the Central Bank a couple of weeks ago where the Occupy Dame Street Protestors are living in tents to protest against capatilism. I'm not sure exactly what their goal is and what will get them to stop the protest in Dublin. Do they want to close down the Central Bank, redistribute all wealth or just raise awareness? Why are they at the Central Bank instead of the IFSC which would more closely reflect the Occupy Wall Street image? I'm not clear but sure maybe we could all do with some of their passion in our lives, maybe not the protesting but just being that dedicated to a cause or an interest. Though volunteering to live in a small tent on nights like last night when Dublin suffered 100 year floods requires a level dedication, passion and more than a touch of the crazy that I could never have.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

iOS 5

I've been playing with iOS5 for a while and I've come to two conclusions on it. First it's a great update on the iPad. Second its a bit of a let down update on the iPhone. 

iOS 5 on the iPad is actually a nice step forward. There are lots of headline features but the three I've found myself using regularly are the notifications on the lock screen, newsstand and the multi-touch gestures. Notifications are actually very useful and I've now find that I have my iPad in a stand beside my monitor and I can see when an email, twitter of Facebook message pops in. Newsstand I assumed would be a gimmick and perhaps it will be but I currently have two newspapers installed for free (the Guardian trial and metro) and I do find myself reading them. I feel the novelty could wear off and I'll go back to just reading the websites. Finally the killer update for me is the multi-touch gestures. Swiping up with 4 fingers to access multitasking, swiping across to switch apps and pinching to close apps have become my usual way of navigating apps. 

On the other hand (no pun intended) the multi-touch gestures don't work on the iPhone 4, where I actually need them because my home button is acting up a little so I'd like an alternative to pressing it, especially the double tap to open multitasking. I can understand that the screen is a little small and fiddly for 4 finger gestures but Apple could at least have given us the option. To not have it there is a let when compared to the iPad. The notification system is the one update on the iPhone I regularly use and like. 

Other features like wifi sync, and reminders may become party of my day to day use but haven't yet. The photo editing tool is simply too late to the game since I'm already using Photoshop Express and Snapseed.  Airplay mirroring to the Apple TV might prove useful some time but it's not something I have a use for at the moment. My wife and I might use iMessage but she's rather sensibly banned me from updating her 3GS at least for now. She doesn't want any of the other new features and doesn't want anything to change  so she's happy to stay a version behind until everyone else tests the OS.

All in all iOS 5 isn't a bad upgrade. It's adds some useful features, especially for the iPad but most importantly it's free so it is pointless to complain about anything. Like the iPhone 4S it seems like an incremental update but then again iOS works and works well so we'd all probably complain more if Apple changed it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn 2011

Something good seems to have come from the economic collapse, we still have St Stephens Green (at least for another autumn). The plans for Metro North and the Dart Interconnector seem to have been put on hold if not cancelled so there is no need to dig up the Green and build a train station. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs RIP

Every morning when I wake the first thing I do is check my iPhone for the news. I suppose that was indeed a fitting way to learn about the untimely passing of Steve Jobs, the man who gave us the iPhone and set the standard by which smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops are measured today. 

I am an Apple fan. I have owned all the iPhone versions up to and including 4. I own the iPad2, a classic iPod, Apple TV 2, a MacBook Pro, my wife uses a MacBook Air and the whole lot are connected using an Airport Extreme. We don't buy DVDs anymore, we rent from iTunes. My CDs are in a box under the stairs, replaced by iTunes as well. I'm sure many people will tell me that in each case a better device exists for numerous technical reasons. However I chose the Apple device because they are the best fit for what I want.

Steve's genius wasn't in inventing the first device in a class (the iPod wasn't the first MP3 Player, the iPad was not the first tablet device) or even the device with the most features (no Flash), it was in looking at a market and creating something to meet that need and something that would in a short amount of time come to define that market. He will be missed by many who never met him but who have grown accustomed to his genius.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I watched the Presidential Debate last night on TV3 and the previous one last Friday on RTE. I have to say at this stage that this election is more about mistakes than issues. 

The role of the President is a figurehead role and we currently have 7 candidates in the running. At this stage with just over 3 weeks to go there are, realistically, only 4 candidates still in the race, Michael D Higgins, Gay Mitchell, Martin McGuinness and Sean Gallagher. 

Higgins is clearly head and shoulders above the rest, even if he is 2 feet shorter than the others. His biggest win so far has been staying out of the scraps and acting presidential. He demonstrates a clear knowledge of the role and the constitution and sometimes comes across as the wise teacher explaining to the other candidates why they are wrong in what they said. No one wants to be seen attacking a small old man so the others are scared to even look at him the wrong waay. A good candidate on his own, he was always going to be in the running right to the end but now he might just win easily because the others knock themselves out.

Mitchell and McGuinness are taking lumps out of each other and really need to focus on the campaign because at this stage they are not fighting for the win they, are fighting for 2nd and 3rd place, 4th if they keep dragging each other down and let Gallagher get ahead. With the success of the peace process McGuinness had some appeal outside the Sinn Fein core vote but his constant focus on Northern Ireland issues and achievements in interviews will begin to grate on the voters in the Republic of Ireland, where he is running. His IRA past was always going to be an issue but voters thought they knew about it and many had gotten past it. He has now confused the situation by denying his membership after 1974 and created doubt in peoples minds.

Mitchell is an interview train wreck. His campaign is completely focused on taking down McGuinness and while he's achieving that goal he is not actually winning votes for himself. When talking about himself he constantly repeats tales of woe from his youth that could have come from a Frank McCourt or Alice Taylor novel. Asked about the role of the President he talks about suicide prevention, an admirable goal but he could just volunteer for the Samaritans. He needs something new to catch peoples interest or his campaign is doomed.

Gallagher is the surprise of the campaign for me. I thought he'd pick up some votes from the younger voters and business people and finish 6th or even as high as 5th but last weekend he struck a cord with my retired parents who were impressed with his focus on creating jobs. The older generation, who will vote, are worried about their children having to emigrate so the jobs creation message resonates with them. Gallagher however needs to push himself forward more. There is no point in having a message if you don't tell anyone about it. Also while he denies his FF past many people out there have a history of voting for FF and like Gallagher now claim to have disowned the party. That is a voting pool he could tap into with a "We made mistakes in the past, lets learn from them" message.

The other three, Dana Rosemary Scallon, Mary Davis and David Norris are performing so badly that if they were in an American Presidential Primary race they would have pulled out. Unfortunately at this stage I suspect they are hanging on in the hope of getting enough votes to get some of their election expenses paid by the state. 

Dana seems to wave the constitutions of Ireland and the European Union in response to every question. She is also starting to sound like a conspiracy theory nut and really doesn't seem to understand what the President can and cant do. 

Mary Davis, seems to be caught up in her own airbrushed self image. The Special Olympics was a great achievement but she got paid for it and being on 23 State boards regardless of who appointed her just makes her sound like a friend of Bertie. Also her posters just annoy me. The head shot looks like a completely different person and the full body shot has text too small to read so it looks like a viral advert for Special K. She should fire who ever designed them.

David Norris, God love him he's just in free fall. He started this campaign as a respected elder statesman with a track record of campaigning on many important issues. He is going to end it being chewed up and spat out. He should have known his own personal history and should never have entered the campaign and he certainly should never have reentered it.

I still haven't decided who I'll vote for but Higgins is my favourite at the moment and Gallagher would get a 2nd preference vote, though I expect that Higgins will be in the race after Gallagher is eliminated so a preference vote wont be needed.